Re-entering the dating pool after a breakup can elicit emotional responses ranging from excitement to anxiety-producing dread. The truth is that warming up to single life after a relationship is a process, and figuring out how to feel more comfortable dating after a breakup is an important first step. If the idea of dipping into the dating pool is giving you pause, it's important to know that what you're experiencing is totally normal.
"The dating discomfort experienced after a breakup is multifaceted," Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert, tells Elite Daily. "Part of you is comparing the new person to your ex, and part of you is wondering how to frame the breakup when asked. Another part may feel tentative about [being vulnerable again]." Part of figuring out what's holding you back from enjoying singledom is making sure you're actually ready to start dating again. Although it can be tempting to rush into a new fling after saying goodbye to your ex, taking time to process a breakup is key. "Make sure you're ready to move forward," suggests Winter. "If you haven't emotionally processed and packaged your past relationship, don't even think about starting a new one."
If you're wondering whether or not enough time has passed since your last relationship ended, Winter recommends listening to your gut. There may be a totally valid reason why dating again doesn't feel right, and you owe it to yourself to figure it out. "You'll know you're ready to date again when the thought of meeting someone new excites you," says Winter. "You'll be able to imagine a positive outcome and find yourself hopeful about the prospect of meeting new people." On the other hand, if you can't imagine yourself enjoying the process of meeting other matches, then you may need a bit more time to work through what happened between you and your ex.
Once you feel good about the prospect of getting your mingle on, planing out how you want to talk about your past relationship with dates can help you manage any lingering discomfort. "Prepare to be asked about what happened," says Winter. "Obviously your new date will want to know how and why your relationship ended as a part of their own knowledge base, and that's only fair." There's no need to go into too much detail before you're ready, but being prepared in case the topic comes up can help. Even if the breakup was messy, making it clear that you're over it is major. "Clearly, concisely, and diplomatically provide a two-sentence answer that's gracious and positive, even if the breakup was bad and your partner was horrible."
Lastly, letting yourself believe in love again is a great way to stay positive while transitioning back into dating. It's so easy to feel jaded after a bad breakup, but succumbing to negative thought patterns can have a huge impact on your future relationships. No matter what went down between you and your ex, treating those experiences as learning opportunities can make a huge difference. Just because a relationship didn't work out, doesn't mean you won't find love again in the future.
"You created a relationship before, so you can also create one now," says Winter. "Just because it didn't last doesn't mean you didn't do a good job. You should have confidence that you can believe in yourself again." If your confidence took a major hit during your last relationship and you're still reeling, take as much time as you need to recover. Feeling secure in who you are can help you attract someone who's on the same page.
Dating after a breakup might feel strange for a bit, and that's OK. The best thing you can do for yourself is make sure you're ready to be vulnerable again. Any residual discomfort you feel about dating will pass with time. Remember: These big emotional shifts may not happen overnight. So, while you're adjusting to single life, staying positive and honoring your feelings can help you move forward.
Susan Winter, relationship expert